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J Environ Monit. 2012 Jul;14(7):1814-23. doi: 10.1039/c2em30077j. Epub 2012 Jun 15.

Determination of contaminant levels and remediation efficacy in groundwater at a former in situ recovery uranium mine.

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Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1170, USA.


There has been increasing interest in uranium mining in the United States via in situ recovery techniques. One of the main environmental concerns with in situ uranium mining is the potential for spreading groundwater contamination. There is a dearth of detailed analysis and information regarding the outcome of in situ uranium mine remediation to ascertain the environmental impacts. Regulatory measurements performed at a Wyoming in situ uranium mine were collected and analysed to ascertain the efficacy of remediation and potential long term environmental impact. Based on the measurements, groundwater sweeping followed by reverse osmosis (RO) treatment proved to be a highly efficient method of remediation. However, injection of a reductant in the form of H(2)S after groundwater sweeping and RO did not further reduce the aqueous concentration of U, Mn, or Fe. Low concentrations of target species at monitoring wells outside the mined area appear to indicate that in the long term, natural attenuation is likely to play a major role at reductively immobilizing residual (after remediation) concentrations of U(VI) thus preventing it from moving outside the mined area. Our analysis indicates the need for additional monitoring wells and sampling in conjunction with long term monitoring to better understand the impacts of the different remediation techniques.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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